What should I do if I see someone having a seizure?
If you see someone having a seizure with convulsions and/or loss of consciousness, here's how you can help:
- Roll the person on his or her side to prevent choking on any fluids or vomit.
- Cushion the person's head.
- Loosen any tight clothing around the neck.
- Keep the person's airway open. If necessary, grip the person's jaw gently and tilt his or her head back.
- Do NOT restrict the person from moving unless he or she is in danger.
- Do NOT put anything into the person's mouth, not even medicine or liquid. These can cause choking or damage to the person's jaw, tongue, or teeth. Contrary to widespread belief, people cannot swallow their tongues during a seizure or any other time.
- Remove any sharp or solid objects that the person might hit during the seizure.
- Note how long the seizure lasts and what symptoms occurred so you can tell a doctor or emergency personnel if necessary.
- Stay with the person until the seizure ends.
Call 911 if:
- The person is pregnant or has diabetes.
- The seizure happened in water.
- The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- The person does not begin breathing again or does not return to consciousness after the seizure stops.
- Another seizure starts before the person regains consciousness.
- The person injures himself or herself during the seizure.
- This is a first seizure or you think it might be. If in doubt, check to see if the person has a medical identification card or jewelry stating that they have epilepsy or a seizure disorder.
After the seizure ends, the person will probably be groggy and tired. He or she also may have a headache and be confused or embarrassed. Be patient with the person and try to help him or her find a place to rest if he or she is tired or doesn't feel well. If necessary, offer to call a taxi, a friend, or a relative to help the person get home safely.
If you see someone having a non-convulsive seizure, remember that the person's behavior is not intentional. The person may wander aimlessly or make alarming or unusual gestures. You can help by following these guidelines:
- Remove any dangerous objects from the area around the person or in his or her path.
- Don't try to stop the person from wandering unless he or she is in danger.
- Don't shake the person or shout.
- Stay with the person until he or she is completely alert.
Reference: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Last updated May 3, 2017